President-elect Obama’s administration must not give any inkling that Iraq is becoming less important to Washington if it wants to shore up real but fragile gains in Iraqi stability.
Not since the Iranian revolution has the issue of Shiite political development been of such interest to observers of Middle Eastern politics.
Ten days of raucous student demonstrations across Iran in June prompted fresh predictions of the Iranian regime's imminent demise. But by July, regime hardliners had regained the upper hand by arresting some four thousand people. This summer's back-and-forth is yet another indication that in Iran a highly contentious but gradual process of political change is more likely than revolution.
Since his release from prison late last year, the prominent Sudanese Islamist and former Speaker of Parliament Hassan Turabi has been busy preaching democracy as the best possible system for Muslim countries. Many might consider Turabi's ardent espousal of democracy highly suspect, given his repressive record during the decade when he was Sudan's de facto ruler (1989-1999).